An arsonist who torched eight vehicles during a one-night crime spree has escaped jail, thanks to his enrolment in a residential substance abuse program.
Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta sentenced Angus James Roy Olson to house arrest, but made it clear the sentence can only be served at Teen Challenge.
“If it doesn’t work out — you don’t co-operate with the program, if you’re not allowed for any reason to stay in the program — you’re going to go straight back to jail, Mr. Olson,” Hewitt-Michta said during sentencing in Brandon court. “The only reason I’m not putting you in jail today is because of the Teen Challenge program.”
Olson, 22, pleaded guilty in February to arson for setting eight vehicles on fire in the early morning of Oct. 27.
He entered and set fires inside pickup trucks, cars and vans that were parked in driveways or outside homes on Prairie Crescent, Durum Drive and Elmdale Boulevard. He also stole a car from Durum Drive.
Olson was linked to the crimes by video surveillance and fingerprints.
He says he was so drunk at the time, he doesn’t remember committing the crimes.
He was later found in breach of his bail conditions when he was caught drinking and at a Portage la Prairie nightclub outside his curfew.
After Olson entered his pleas, a pre-sentence report was ordered and sentencing took place on Thursday in Brandon provincial court.
Hewitt-Michta noted that Olson has a serious substance abuse problem, has a history of breaching court orders and is assessed as a high risk to reoffend.
But, Olson confirmed that he’s been accepted to Teen Challenge, an intensive one-year residential substance abuse treatment program he’ll attend in Winnipeg.
Based on that, Hewitt-Michta agreed to allow Olson to serve a house arrest sentence at Teen Challenge as part of a 15-month conditional discharge.
As part of the order, Olson is to apologize to the victims and take part in mediation with them if they agree.
No dollar amount was provided for the damage Olson did.
» Twitter: @IanHitchen
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 24, 2014